Breeding Good Relationships
Cultivate positive interactions between stallion managers and mare owners for a successful breeding season with these pro tips.
By Allison Armstrong Rehnborg
Adapted from the January/February 2020 Paint Horse Journal
Experienced horse breeders understand that getting mares in foal isn’t always easy. Between troubleshooting reproductive issues, coordinating semen shipments with ovulation or dealing with shipping problems, stallion managers and mare owners alike have their hands full during breeding season. While everyone involved wants the same outcome—a successful breeding with an easy pregnancy resulting in a healthy foal—there are plenty of ways for the process to go awry, especially if tensions run high due to misunderstandings or lack of communication. That’s why it’s crucial for all parties involved to develop good, working relationships.
“Breeding can be a little bit of a poker game. Mares don’t always cooperate. Things go wrong in shipping semen,” said APHA member and stallion owner Lexi Heney of Morrice, Michigan. “But ultimately, everyone’s goal in the end is a happy, healthy baby in 11 months.”
In the midst of preparing for a busy breeding season, stallion managers and mare owners spend a lot of time working toward the goal of producing a quality horse, no matter their ultimate goals for the foal. To avoid any misunderstandings during this process, follow these basic principles to help make sure everyone gets the chance to celebrate the birth of their next longed-for Paint foal.
4 TIPS FOR MARE OWNERS
- Do your homework. Staying organized is an important part of the breeding business, especially for mare owners. Whether managing your paperwork, documenting your mare’s cycles and follicle sizes, keeping up with contract stipulations or having a well-thought-out plan, everyone involved appreciates mare owners who are on top of their game.
- Read your contract. Breeding contracts contain everything from fee breakdowns and payment schedules to which days of the week the stallion is collected, how much advance notice the stallion manager requires for collection and any contingency plans for repeat inseminations. Reading and understanding the fine details is crucial.
- Set goals. Cross your mare with the right stallion to produce a healthy, marketable foal. Chat with the stallion owner about your mare to ensure the match is made in heaven, and make sure you’re happy with the foals the stallion is siring.
- Plan ahead. Know your mare—every time your mare ovulates without a resulting pregnancy can add up to additional costs and lost time in breeding season.
3 TIPS FOR STALLION OWNERS
- Communicate often. Mare owners appreciate stallion managers or owners who are accessible and approachable—keep your mare owners in the loop by providing details like a shipping receipt or tracking number when shipping semen.
- Support your stallion and his offspring. That might include subscribing your stallion to incentives like APHA’s Breeders’ Trust and following up with mare owners who’ve bred to your stallion to find out what their offspring are doing down the road.
- Put yourself in the mare owner’s shoes. Be trustworthy and help mare owners understand the nuances that come with years of breeding experience to keep everyone on track for the same, mutual goal of a healthy foal.
Read more in the January/February 2020 Paint Horse Journal.